good news, and I accordingly hurried on to the front.
There was a marked respect shown me by the civilians
located at Fort Reno, something unusual; but I hurried
on to the agency, where all was quiet, and thence
to ranch headquarters. There I learned that a
second attempt to burn the range had been frustrated;
that one of our boys had shot dead a white man in the
act of cutting the east string of fence; that the
same night three fires had broken out in the pasture,
and that a squad of our men, in riding to the light,
had run afoul of two renegade Cheyennes armed with
wire-nippers, whose remains then lay in the pasture
unburied. Both horses were captured and identified
as not belonging to the Indians, while their owners
were well known. Fortunately the wind veered
shortly after the fires started, driving the flames
back against the plowed guards, and the attempt to
burn the range came to naught. A salutary lesson
had been administered to the hirelings of the usurpers,
and with a new moon approaching its full, it was believed
that night marauding had ended for that winter.
None of our boys recognized the white man, there being
no doubt but he was imported for the purpose, and
he was buried where he fell; but I notified the Indian
agent, who sent for the remains of the two renegades
and took possession of the horses. The season
for the beginning of active operations on trail and
for ranch account was fast approaching, and, leaving
the boys to hold the fort during my absence, I took
my private horses and turned homeward.
THE FRUITS OF CONSPIRACY
With a loss of fully fifteen thousand cattle staring
me in the face, I began planning to recuperate the
fortunes of the company. The cattle convention,
which was then over, was conspicuous by the absence
of all Northern buyers. George Edwards had attended
the meeting, was cautious enough to make no contracts
for the firm, and fully warned me of the situation.
I was in a quandary; with an idle treasury of over
a million, my stewardship would be subject to criticism
unless I became active in the interests of my company.
On the other hand, a dangerous cloud hung over the
range, and until that was removed I felt like a man
who was sent for and did not want to go. The falling
market in Texas was an encouragement, but my experience
of the previous winter had had a dampening effect,
and I was simply drifting between adverse winds.
But once it was known that I had returned home, my
old customers approached me by letter and personally,
anxious to sell and contract for immediate delivery.
Trail drovers were standing aloof, afraid of the upper
markets, and I could have easily bought double my
requirements without leaving the ranch. The grass
was peeping here and there, favorable reports came
down from the reservation, and still I sat idle.